Quick Drive | Quick Review: 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave 4X4

When you walk into a Jeep dealership, you’re looking at some of the toughest SUVs that the United States makes. If you want the SUV with the most illustrious history for Jeep, go no further than the Wrangler. This boxy icon is loved by soccer moms and off-roaders alike. There was one problem with Jeep’s current lineup. Why don’t they (and not RAM, FCA’s actual truck brand) make a mid-size go-anywhere pickup? Well, don’t worry about that because there is the Gladiator!  Although I did a longer drive than normal, I’ll talk about what to do when you have a short time to drive one.

Looking at the Gladiator, you see something familiar. What is it? Oh yeah, it looks like a Wrangler with a cargo-bed. There are a few things to note for people that actual pickup users should know as pickups: the Gladiator can only be had as a four-door cab with a five-foot box. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the Mojave trim level. A Bright White Clear-Coat Exterior Paint covers the Gladiator Mojave with orange accents. You’ll see a giant MOJAVE sticker near the front wheel arch. This may surprise you, but the grill looks exactly like the one on the Wrangler. Jeep has also taken the liberty of making sure the Mojave is desert rated and you’ll get a badge that says that. The Premium LED Lighting Group includes LED headlights, tail lights, fog lights, and turn signals. 

If you’re shorter than 5’7”, you’re going to have a hard time getting into the Mojave. This jacked-up pickup has massive 33” tires, FOX performance shocks, a front-facing camera, and skid plates. The Mojave has the Wrangler and Gladiator’s huge side-view mirror with optional blind-spot detection. We have to face a few things about the exterior. While regular Gladiators have between 18-20”, the Mojave version is significantly higher off the ground. Also, this version just looks badass. Looking at the Mojave, you get the feeling that it despises asphalt and wants to go play off-road and in the desert. It is desert rated after all. With everything on here, this Gladiator has a presence that any other Gladiator doesn’t have. 

Moving inside, it’s a typical Jeep and typical Wrangler. It uses analog dials with a small display that can show navigation and speed. Steering wheels house display control, infotainment controls, and cruise control. Climate controls and dead simple since the controls are large and use actual buttons! Window switches are under the climate controls because the doors can be taken off. Speaking of things that can be taken off, this Gladiator had the Body-Color three-piece hardtop. To connect your phone, there’s Bluetooth, USB, and USB-C connectors. Since this is a Wrangler, even the optional eight-speed automatic uses a chunky gear-shifter.

This Gladiator Mojave did have a few options. First, the Cold Weather Package with heated front seats, heated steering wheel, and remote start. Next, the upgraded 8.4” Radio and Premium Audio Group with Navigation. Adaptive Cruice Control also has a Forward Collision. Jeeps’ 8.4” infotainment system is easy to use with a WiFi hotspot, climate controls, navigation, and various other controls. It also had leather bucket seats, a wireless Bluetooth speaker, and a spray-in bed liner. Gladiator Mojave has more off-roading features including an Axle-Locking Feature and extreme off-roading capabilities. So of course, I was 99% driving on pavement. 

First impressions of the Mojave: it feels big. Constant corrections are necessary when you drive over 50 MPH, and of course, I did the maximum of 70 MPH on various highways with that speed limit. Using the climate controls was simple while driving as are the navigation and Apple CarPlay. All Gladiators use Jeep’s 3.6-liter V6 with 285-horsepower and 260 lb-ft. An eight-speed automatic and power going to the rear-wheels will give you a 0-60 MPH time of around 7.2 seconds. The Gladiator doesn’t really need more power than that. Most controls while driving are easy to use which is extremely helpful. Other helpful standard and optional features include the massive door mirrors with the optional blind-spot monitoring. Although Gladiators get a start/stop system, the system would disengage on its own after maybe 20 seconds. Thankfully, you can just turn it off entirely.

What was my extent of driving a truck with giant tires? Going on some grass, some gravel, and many, many puddles. The Mojave felt more at home on the maybe 5% of “off-roading” I did compared to being on asphalt. If you choose to get a Mojave, please try to use it the way it should. If you have a lot of sand or an off-road course near you, use it as much as you can. As a truck, I was able to put four bags of groceries in it. It was fine. Nothing to brag about. I don’t think I really could test this as an off-roading vehicle nor a pick-up. Sorry about that. Blame being in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago with a few parks and that’s about it. It does seat five people as well as a regular Wrangler can. 

Pricing for the Gladiator Mojave starts around $44,000. It’s so easy to add options to this, you’d think the Gladiator had some German in it. Leather seats are $1,500, LED lights are $1,000, upgraded navigation system is $1,700 and the automatic is $2,000. When you combine everything including the less than $1,000 priced options that my test Gladiator had, it comes to a whopping $62,000! That’s almost $20,000 in options! That said, a few options such as heated seats, the upgraded navigation system, bed liner, and safety features are worth having. Since this is still a Jeep, being able to remove the hardtop is also a good feature and as a truck, the roll-up tonneau cover seems necessary. As pricy as the automatic is, I’d still stick with it.

Verdict time! The Gladiator feels like a Jeep and more like a pick-up. With it having Wrangler DNA, the controls are simple to use. The Mojave trim really makes the Gladiator a go-anywhere vehicle and can withstand off-roading (driving on some pebbles) and deserts (grass with some weeds in it). Since the Mojave trim level is so intense, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are going to use it for its full capabilities. Thankfully, my next article will be about which trim level makes the most sense for those of us that don’t use pickups as they should be used. When looking at more lifestyle-oriented pickups, test the Jeep Gladiator first. 


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